Apple’s naming convention for the iPhone has been quite predictable over the last few years. Since the launch of iPhone 3G, Apple has introduced an “S” model every other year.
And since Apple launched iPhone 5 last year, it is now widely expected to next generation iPhone dubbed “iPhone 5S” later this year.
Ken Segall, Apple’s former advisor and creator of the iconic Think Different campaign, thinks that using “S” in the model number sends a “weak message” telling potential consumers to hold off till the next major update.
From his blog:
I wish Apple never created a “4S.”
First of all, it’s an awkward moniker whether you speak it or read it. The Apple designers tried their best with the product graphics, but there is an inescapable reality: 4S will never be as simple as 4.
More important, tacking an S onto the existing model number sends a rather weak message. It says that this is our “off-year” product, with only modest improvements. If holding off on the big number change achieved some great result, I might think otherwise.
He suggests that Apple should give every iPhone a new number, and let the consumers decide for themselves if the phone is worth upgrading to. He writes, “Attempting to calibrate “degree of innovation” in the product name seems like a needless (and self-diminishing) exercise.”
As a marketing person, Segall, who had earlier noted that Samsung’s ads are generating more buzz than Apple’s ads, has an expertise in areas like product naming and consumer perception, and makes an excellent point about how the “S” naming system creates a negative impression even before a potential buyer judges the product for its features.
Do you think he has a point even though there’s no evidence of the naming directly impacting sales numbers? Should the next iPhone be called iPhone 6?